Wednesday, November 25, 2009

OPINION: Never A Dull Moment At The Socorro Co-op

By John Severance, Editor

I went to my first Socorro Electric Cooperative meeting Monday night and I don’t even know where to start.
These meetings are normally scheduled Wednesday nights and that’s bad for us at the Mountain Mail because that is our deadline for producing that week’s newspaper.
Perhaps, they’re probably happy that we are unable to attend the majority of their meetings.
I found them to be a clandestine group, which was apt to go into executive session whenever they discussed something controversial or if they wanted to get the member-owners and press out of the board room.
I spent the first half of the deliberation outside in the cold and a sheriff deputy showed up to serve a subpoena. He was told they were in executive session so he waited around a little bit before leaving without serving the subpoena.
It was getting cold so I decided to go back inside and I sat in a chair along with five other people who were seated outside the chamber room.
The board had gone into executive session because attorney Joanna Aguilar requested it.
Soon, a voice could be heard screaming, “Get your hands off of me.”
Charlene Wagner, the wife of trustee Charlie Wagner, was next to me and she jumped out of her seat and flung the door open. A voice yelled out: “We are in executive session.”
She replied: “They are grabbing Charlie. You are in executive session while you are beating up my husband.”
Charlene Wagner called the police.
Executive session continued, and one could not help but hear them talking about a motion that would allow the attorney a six-month leave of absence with the chance of returning after that time period.
That’s just what I heard. I could be wrong because I wasn’t in the room.
Anyway, the doors opened and they said the meeting was open again.
And co-op vice president Harold Baca immediately adjourned the meeting.
Aguilar would not comment on the record about her future plans with the co-op.
Soon two Socorro police officers showed up and one talked to Wagner and the other talked to District IV Trustee Dave Wade. Wagner and Wade sit next to each other.
Then the police officers handed out sheets to co-op council members asking them if they wanted to make a statement. Some filled them out.
And in fact, I heard one of them say, “I did not see anything.”
Say what?
The co-op definitely has an old boys network mentality. I saw the same thing in Kentucky. And that’s bothersome.
They appear to want to do things their own way and they don’t want any interference from member/owners and especially not the media. They want to have their meetings twice a month and get their checks from the co-op. Sounds like a pretty good gig if nobody is bothering you.
There are plenty of co-ops out there that run efficiently and without any suggestion of corruption.
The one in Socorro, though, is not one of them.
Here is some advice for the trustees.
If you go into executive session, you would be best served to keep your voices down or move your meeting because anything that is heard or seen is fair game.
And you can be sure the Mountain Mail will be watching and listening.
John Severance can be reached at 575 838-5555 or you can email him at

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